High cholesterol: The popular nacho topping that can lower levels

Why cholesterol is bad for you

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Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. This can create a build-up in the blood vessels ultimately leading to serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. There are many factors that can cause high cholesterol including exercise, age, and genetics.

However, diet is often one of the major causes.

Therefore, those at risk of or suffering with high cholesterol will be encouraged to reduce the intake of fatty, sugary and processed foods as a result.

Equally, patients will be advised to up their intake of other healthier foods.

One study has shown that a type of bean, commonly used as the refried bean component on nachos, could be beneficial to those with high cholesterol.

The paper, published in the Journal of Nutrition, studied the effects of pinto beans on hamsters.

As part of the research, 44 male golden Syrian hamsters were randomly assigned to four diet groups.

These included a five percent fat diet, a 15 percent fat diet, a high-saturated fat diet supplemented with five percent whole pinto beans, or a high-saturated fat diet supplemented with 0.5 percent pinto bean hulls (a by-product) for four weeks.

Plasma, liver, intestinal, and faecal samples were collected to assess cholesterol levels.

There are two types of cholesterol found in the blood, which are often referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol.

Having “good” cholesterol, known as high-density lipoprotein, makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke

Whereas “bad” cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein puts you at greater risk of this.

The study found that non-high-density lipoprotein concentration was “significantly” reduced in the whole pinto bean and pinto bean hull supplemented groups, compared with the 15 percent fat group.

The results were “comparable” with the “normal fat” – the five percent fat group.

“Whole pinto bean-supplemented hamsters had significantly lower liver cholesterol and higher faecal cholesterol concentrations than those fed the high-saturated fat diet,” the study explains.

It concludes: “Pinto beans remediated high cholesterol induced by high saturated fat diets in male hamsters by decreasing hepatic cholesterol synthesis and intestinal cholesterol absorption, effects which were partially exerted by the hulls.”

Generally a healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).

More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l, and you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.

To reduce cholesterol levels the NHS advises:

  • Eating less saturated fat
  • Exercising more
  • To stop smoking
  • Cutting back on alcohol.

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